Sustainability and Climate Change in the Ancient Maya Area: Evidence from Remote Sensing and Long-Term Land Use
The sub-tropical forests that once covered the ancient ruins of much of Mesoamerica are being rapidly removed due to modern subsistence practices. Yet, archaeological and ecological research shows that this is not the first time that extensive human-caused deforestation has occurred in this region, minimally representing the third iteration of such an event. Analyses of lake-cores and remote sensing imagery provide evidence for extensive land clearing around 1000 BCE and again after CE 250, with the central Maya area reverting to the tropical forests seen today after CE 1000. LiDAR data also reveal successive built landscapes associated with the earlier deforestations in the central Maya region, potentially correlated with substantial changes in rainfall. The LiDAR data also demonstrate how the ancient Maya terraformed their environments to manage the flow of water and engage in sustainable agriculture. At Caracol, Belize, archaeological data show that a successful urban system was created through the construction of integrative causeways to link public architecture and the purposeful spacing of residential groups among hundreds of built reservoirs and thousands of constructed agricultural terraces. This built environment fostered agricultural productivity, health, and long-term sustainability throughout the Classic Period (C.E. 250-900).
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Sustainability and Climate Change in the Ancient Maya Area: Evidence from Remote Sensing and Long-Term Land Use. Diane Chase, Arlen Chase. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444171)
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min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;
Abstract Id(s): 18798